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2022 NABCEP CE Conference!

Connecting Utility-Scale Solar PV to Distribution Systems


Essential training for developers, managers, and operators of utility scale solar pv projects

Instructor: Tim Taylor

Subjects: Solar: Design and Installation, Solar: Solar Utility Interconnection, Utilities: Electrical Distribution, Utilities: DER

Length: 8 weeks


This course provides solar PV energy and electric utility professionals an understanding of utility distribution systems, and the considerations in connecting utility-scale solar PV to distribution systems.

Why Take This Course The pace at which utility-scale solar PV projects are being connected to utility distribution systems continues to accelerate. A Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory report in October 2021 stated that the capacity in the US utility-scale solar project pipeline was roughly equal to the wind, storage, and natural gas COMBINED.

Solar developers and contractors, utilities, regulators, equipment suppliers, consultants, and researchers need an accelerated and effective way for employees to gain an understanding of utility-scale solar PV plants, utility distribution systems, and the many considerations and issues in the interconnection of the two.

What You Get This course has been designed so that you will:

In this course, Tim Taylor, Owner of Electric Distribution Academy, brings his 30+ years of experience in utility distribution systems, utility-scale solar plants, and interconnection requirements to give students the background to succeed in the growing utility-scale solar PV industry.

What You Can Expect The course is technically-oriented and focused on electric power concepts, equipment, and applications. However, the material is presented from the “ground-up”, so that if you are a non-engineer or are new to utility-scale solar PV plants and utility distribution systems, you can progress easily through the content with little trouble.

Extensive use of graphics is used in the instructional videos, and you can download a copy of all class material for future use. Tim is also readily available through the class discussion board.

Tim also provides an extensive list of resources that you can use in the future for more in-depth conversations on key topics.

In preparation for this course students should take the free course "Overview of Electric Distribution Systems"

Ready To Sign Up Today? Click Here to Enroll

Flexible Online Training for Industry Professionals

You can begin this online course instantly upon enrollment. Get access to all of the course materials as soon as you enroll. The instructor-led session will begin on the scheduled start date. During the session dates the instructor will be in the course answering questions on the discussion board. After the instructor-led session ends, you'll continue to have access to all of the course materials for a full year and can complete the course at your own pace.

Access Information and Build Your Training Library

After enrolling, the course materials will remain in your account and be accessible 12 months (1 year) after the session end date. Access can be extended beyond 1 year with a monthly membership. Rewatch videos and review assignments as many times as you want. View updates the instructor makes to the course as the industry advances. Return to your course anytime with online access from anywhere in the world.

Earn A Certificate of Completion

When you complete this course you are eligible for a certificate of completion from HeatSpring. You can download your certificate as soon as you have completed all of the course requirements. Students can easily share their verified certificates on their LinkedIn profiles using our LinkedIn integration.

Tim's style is laid back but information filled. He is an expert who is experienced and comfortable with the subject.

- William Noyes, Noyes Engineering


Tim Taylor

Electric Distribution Academy

Mr. Taylor is Owner and Managing Director of Electric Distribution Academy, and has over 30 years of experience in electric distribution planning, design, operations, and asset management. He also has experience in business development and technical sales support in ADMS, asset management systems, and overcurrent protection products. Mr. Taylor has led and...[more]

Course Outline

Generation and Transmission Systems

The overview of Generation and Transmission systems provides context around utility-scale solar interconnections to T&D systems. This week we take a look at the different types of generation on utility systems, including central station (steam) thermal types of generation; an overview of the different types of renewables generation; and a discussion on utility transmission systems, including concepts, architectures, and operating principles.

Voltage, Current, and Power Fundamentals

There are some basic electric fundamentals that anyone working with solar and utility systems needs to know. This week covers topics such as voltage, current, and power; impedance; watts, vars, and volt-amps; power factor; single-phase and three-phase circuits; and grounding.

Distribution Systems

In the next week-and-a-half, we look at the common characteristics of North American style utility distribution systems. This knowledge is intended to give you background on the historic context of distribution systems, and why it can sometimes be challenging to connect large amounts of solar PV to it. This includes basic design and operating concepts, architectures, voltage levels, equipment, and operating principles. We'll look at the impact that distribution characteristics have on the location and quantity of solar on the system, including source impedance; radial, looped, and networked systems; minimum and peak feeder loads; feeder sectionalizing; and system stiffness.

Distribution Systems and Utility-Scale Solar PV Interconnection

In this week, we'll finish the material on distribution systems and then progress into the first part of Utility-Scale Solar PV Interconnection.

  • Solar PV Overview (Resource)
Utility-Scale Solar PV Interconnection on Distribution

In this module, we start with the basics of solar PV farms on distribution, before we get into more detail in the coming weeks. We start by looking at common solar PV issues on distribution. We also look at topics such as interconnection requirements including equipment and its function, inverters and their functionality with respect to the grid, grounding, SCADA connection and communications, and transformer winding configurations.

  • Example of Inverter Listing Request Instruction (Download .pdf)
  • Smart Inverter Benefits (Resource)
  • Example of Advanced Inverter Tests (Download .pdf)
  • What is a Combiner Box? (Resource)
  • Overview of How Electricity is Produced in a Solar Farm (Resource)
  • DNP3 Protocol (Resource)
Distribution Voltage Regulation and Solar PV Generation

Distribution voltage control/regulation, as well as reactive power control, is one of the most important design and operating principles that a utility must consider. With the introduction of IEEE 1547-2018, solar plants are facing new voltage control requirements. During this week, we'll look at voltage requirements that utilities must provide their customers; voltage drop that occurs on distribution feeder primaries and secondaries; utility voltage control equipment; common impacts of solar installations on utility voltage supply; and possible solutions to voltage issues created by solar installations, including smart inverter controls impacting voltage and reactive power. We also discuss voltage flicker and sags, and inverter ride-through capability.

Distribution Protection and Solar PV Generation

Short-circuits and overcurrent protection is a key design consideration for utility systems, with considerations on solar plant design and operation. This week we'll look at the nature of distribution system faults, overcurrents, and key design principles including instantaneous and time-delayed tripping, reclosing, and post-fault restoration practices. We'll discuss over/under voltage and frequency events on the system, and how they impact the solar PV plant. We'll also look at the potential for unintentional islanding and ground fault overvoltages, and possible mitigation measures, including 3Vo protection and DTT (Direct Transfer Trip).

Distribution Feeder Screening Tests and Hosting Capacity

Estimating what the impacts of new solar PV farms on distribution systems is important for utility engineers as well as developers. In this section, we look at some of the technical screening tests that have been used for solar PV siting and sizing, as well as Hosting Capacity studies and maps which some public service commission and distribution organizations now use.

  • FERC SGIP - For Generating Facilities No Larger Than 20 MW) (Download .pdf)

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